What jumps out at me most as our group of 40+ immerses itself in Cairo (the capitol of Egypt) is how warmly welcomed we are, how safe we feel, and how much damage the handful of extremists caused not just to Americans, but also to all Arabs, with their heinous act on 9/11. Extremists exist in almost any group. In this case, the Muslim extremists had a longstanding impact because their act was so horrid. As I get to know Egyptians (both Muslim and Christian) in their own country, I feel bad for they way they have all paid for the extremists in their ranks. Personal stories from a few have brought this home…for ex., our own guide (an Egyptian Christian) was denied a visa to visit the U.S. several times, even though his parents lived there and his father was very sick, because of a long hesitancy after 9/11 to allow any Egyptian man into the U.S. who had not already proven his trustworthiness. “I didn’t blame them,” he said. “It just was tough.”
And then there was this. In the airport today, on our way from Cairo to Luxor, a well-dressed middle-aged man came up to our group. Keep in mind that it’s obvious to everyone that we are Americans – by our speech, dress, and travel in a group. He wanted us to know that he really likes Americans. He seemed to be trying to apologize, in a way, for Egypt’s connections to some of the 9/11 terrorists even though he had nothing to do with it. He was so glad to see American tourists in Egypt and wanted us to feel welcome, so he walked over to make sure we did.
It was touching. Not surprising, but touching. People wave or smile at us constantly here. I know many Americans still have a basic fear of any Arab. I’m so grateful that no Americans have done heinous deeds in other countries, or it could happen to us too. Not likely–but it could.
And to think we worship the same God, share some of the same Bible, and admire some of the same people in that Bible. (Many Muslims believe in the Virgin Mary.) Religious beliefs can cause such havoc when hijacked by extremists! It’s sad for all of us when that happens.
I’m “talking religion” here because our guide brings it up, and because our tour group wants him to. Nobody is arguing–just learning. So refreshing.
I’m writing this from the boat on the Nile, which will be our home for seven days, 300 miles south of Cairo. I’m writing a day or two late because it’s so hard to keep this up while traveling. Already, today’s images are replacing yesterday’s. So I’ll try to do this regularly as time, WiFi, and clumsy tablet allow. Photos below…
PS: One photo that doesn’t appear here is the group of middle-aged and old women who were cleaning the streets to earn $30 a month. It’s the only job they could get. They were friendly and wanted to talk but didn’t want their photos take